Congress members of Parliament (MPs) loyal to former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao yesterday boycotted the five-member committee to ascertain the views of MPs on the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) leadership issue as about 150 of 200 MPs favoured Sitaram Kesari as the consensus CPP leader.
A delegation of Rao-loyalist MPs met CPP secretary H Hanumanthappa and handed over a letter from Jagannath Mishra, chairman of the Congress parliamentary group for inner party democracy, demanding free and fair election by secret ballot to the CPP leaders election scheduled in the evening.
Rajesh Pilot, an aspirant to the CPP leaders post, who was being backed by the Rao-loyalists, did not appear before the committee which heard views of the MPs till 3 pm.
The committee consisted of All-India Congress Committee (AICC) observers Manmohan Singh, Nawal Kishore Sharma and the three Congress Parliamentary Party secretaries.
In the letter to Congress Parliamentary Party, Mishra recalled that a delegation of the group had met party president Sitaram Kesari on Thursday, asking him to reconsider the decision of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) to appoint a five-member committee to hear the MPs on the leadership issue.
He had assured the delegation that he would put forward the groups concerns and demands to the CWC, Mishra said adding, However, as of now, we have not received any communication from the Congress president.
The group said that in the meantime, they had received a communication from Hanumanthappa requesting the CPP members to give their views to AICC observers.
We once again, on behalf of Congress parliamentary working group for inner democracy, reiterate our position that we want free and fair election by secret ballot and a proper notification should be issued to appoint returning officer and election schedule should be announced to give enough time and fair opportunity to each and every individual member to exercise his right of expression through secret ballot which would certainly strengthen our party, Mishra said in the letter.
The letter was handed over by Suresh Kalmadi, S S Ahluwalia, K M Khan, Y S Rajasekhar Reddy, Atma Charan Reddy and Srikant Jichkar.